You are on page 1of 4

International Journal of Humanities and Social Science Invention

ISSN (Online): 2319 7722, ISSN (Print): 2319 7714


www.ijhssi.org ||Volume 6 Issue 3||March. 2017 || PP.72-75

Teaching English Pronunciation to Spanish Speakers


MSc. Jorge Tapia Celi, MSc. Wilmer Guerrero Aguilar,
MSc.Carlos Valle Navarro
Universidad de Guayaquil

Abstract: The research topic aimed to analyze and investigate teaching English pronunciation of Spanish
speakers. In this regard, thorough understanding and analysis of speech sounds, phonetics, speech organs,
consonants, vowels, and voiced and non-voiced notes were discussed in a critical manner. The introduction
presented the aim, objectives, and research questions along with explaining the rationale of the research topic
and determining the scope of the research. The rationale for the research topic was found in the form of
importance of learning correct ways of pronunciation especially for non-English speakers. The literature review
discussed about the speech sounds, vowels, consonants, speech organs, and production of sounds in a critical
manner. The literature review served the purpose of dealing with the research topic in an in-depth manner. It
was found that the correct pronunciation is dependent on positioning of tongue and lips and also the movement
of air within and outside the mouth and nose. The literature review added great deal of value in this research.
The research methodology explained the reason behind selecting the anti-positivism research philosophy and
inductive research approach along with the use of questions and graphics for enhancing the pronunciation of
students in a well-planned manner. It explained the methodology used in analyzing the major outcomes of the
research. The proposed framework explained the framework used in enhancing the pronunciation of students.
The conclusion and recommendation concluded that enhancing English pronunciation requires continuous
effort along with proper understanding over the production of speech sounds, sound movement, and vowels and
consonants production and pronunciation.
Keywords: pronunciation, speech sounds, phonetics, vowels, consonants.

I. Introduction
English has emerged as one of the main languages being spoken in different parts of the world. The
global environment seeks people having command over English in terms of communication and exchange of
ideas and views. English is a global language that is used for the purpose of communication in countries where
it is not a native language. However, with global boundaries shrinking and people exploring different
opportunities in different parts of the world, English has emerged as one of the most important languages that
one should master in order to be more confident while sharing views and ideas while conversing with people
knowing English. The research aims to discover the major obstacles in teaching English pronunciation to
Spanish speakers. Every country has different culture and environment along with native language that helps in
developing comfort zone with others
Language often helps in exchanging ideas and opinions along with creating a sense of togetherness.
However, people who do not speak English considering a difference in native language tend to pronounce
certain words in a different manner often creating difficulties in understanding the meaning of certain words.
The research aims to identify methods through which English pronunciation can be taught to Spanish speakers
in order to strengthen their language and communication skills. It is important to differentiate the pronunciation
of alphabets in English and Spanish that may sound similar but actually they are not similar. At the same time,
Spanish has few extra letters than English and the way letters are pronounced is completely different raising
difficulties in teaching English to Spanish to an extent. The next part of the discussion presents research aims,
objectives and goals that will help in conducting the research in a succinct and systematic manner.
The research aims to identify ways through which teaching English pronunciation to Spanish speakers
can be made an easy and simple task covering major and minor intricacies of speaking English, pronunciation
problem and understanding voicing, mouth position, syllables and specific sounds.

II. Research Methodology


Saunders, et al (2007) said that philosophy is all about beliefs and rationale investigation about
knowledge and existence. Moreover, philosophy states the understanding of researchers in terms of ascertaining
and underpinning the existence of any phenomenon. Research philosophy can be categorised under positivism
and anti-positivism philosophy. Positivism philosophy is based on rules and regulations governed by laws and
acceptance of realities existing in the real world. On the other hand, anti-positivism research philosophy is based
on observations, analysis and understanding of realities further based on personal interpretation and analysis.

www.ijhssi.org 72 | Page
Teaching English Pronunciation to Spanish Speakers

Anti-positivism philosophy allows researchers to explore the reality based on logical estimation of reasons
behind it along with evaluating and analyzing its purpose and importance through personal understanding. The
present research is based on teaching English pronunciation to Spanish speakers that requires personal
observation and analysis and thus, anti-positivism research philosophy seems to be more appropriate and result
oriented compared to positivism philosophy. So, considering the research topic, I will prefer anti-positivism
research philosophy to accomplish set research objectives. The next part of the discussion presents an idea and
understanding over the research approach and its usefulness.
Saunders, et al (2007) said that research approach determines the mindset and understanding of
researchers on the underpinning of a particular reality and phenomenon. Research approach can be classified
under inductive and deductive approach. Inductive approach starts from a specific discussion and moves to
general conclusions while deductive approach starts from general ideas and evidences moving to specific
findings and understanding of a phenomenon. Inductive approach is based on observations and personal
interpretation while deductive approach is based on general rules and regulations. I believe that inductive
approach will be of great help in the current research by discussing intricacies of English pronunciation to
Spanish speakers in order to ascertain general findings. Moreover, inductive approach is based on observations
and interpretations that will further help the chosen anti-positivism philosophy.
Saunders, et al (2007) stated that data can be collected from two sources, primary and secondary.
Primary data are collected through primary sources like surveys, interviews and studies based on observations
while secondary data are collected through secondary sources like academic books and journals, published
research papers and internet sources. I will collect primary data through observational studies to be conducted
on adult students attending classes at the State University of Guayaquil. These students will be taught English
pronunciation through an effective curriculum basically concentrating on vowel sounds and contractions. On the
other hand, secondary data will be collected through referring to books and journals offering information over
phonetics and its elements along with referring to past research papers. This will help in forming an effective
framework that will help in evaluating the research goals and objectives based on personal observation and
interpretation.
Saunders, et al (2007) stated that sampling process determines the identification of samples from the
available population. Total available population cannot be surveyed, interviewed or observed. In order to derive
a sample size, few people are identified in the form of participants through different sampling process. Sampling
process include, snow ball sampling based on identifying few participants and requesting them to refer more;
convenience sampling process that is based on identifying samples in a convenient manner and random
sampling process based on identifying samples randomly. I will use convenience sampling process to identify
few students in the form of participants attending classes at the State University of Guayaquil. The idea is to
identify at least 25 participants who can be taught English pronunciation by focusing more on vowel sounds and
contraction through the formation of an effective curriculum. The next part of the discussion presents an
understanding over the data analysis method.
Saunders, et al (2007) stated that data can be analyzed qualitatively and quantitatively. There is no
scope to analyze data using statistical tools in this research and thus I will focus more on qualitative analysis
based in theoretical underpinning of information based on observations. At first, an effective curriculum
including information over vowel sounds and contraction will be designed and assessed in terms of acceptance
and feasibility. Later, the same curriculum will be implemented in terms of identifying its usefulness in terms of
impact and influence in learning English pronunciation. It needs to be understood that students are not going to
learn overnight and thus the usefulness of implemented measures will be assessed based on simplicity and
understanding. The next part of the discussion presents an idea over ethical considerations that always play an
important role in initiating and competing research.
Blackburn (2001) stated that ethics are moral principles and norms that define the outlook of
individuals. Ethics are based on honesty and transparency that leads fair outcomes and conclusions in the
context of research. In the context of the research, I will make sure that all information of participants will be
treated as confidential. At the same time their personal details and mode of individual learning will not be share
with any third party to respect privacy along with being honest and transparent.

III. Results
The framework has been designed to improve and teach English pronunciation of Spanish students by
concentrating on vowel sounds. For this purpose, an understanding over improving vowel sounds have been
presented that will further be analyzed on the basis of success and failure in terms of basic understanding and
improvement of students. Few students in the form of participants attending classes at the State University of
Guayaquil were contacted and targeted for implementing this proposed framework. 25 participants were
identified who had interest in learning English language and pronunciation. The proposed framework is based
on the findings of the literature where the importance and usefulness of vowels, contractions, and sentence

www.ijhssi.org 73 | Page
Teaching English Pronunciation to Spanish Speakers

structure was discussed in an illustrative manner. At the same time, the literature review revealed that teaching
English pronunciation to Spanish students can be a challenging task especially when students do not have a
basic understanding.
As the majority of the targeted students did not have Basic English pronunciation knowledge, they
were first taught the difference between the English and Spanish vowels. At the same time, focus was more on
correct vowel pronunciation and understanding of contractions. The students voices were recorded and used for
further modification along with using the Kenilworths English Teaching Pronunciation that helped in
ascertaining the interest level of students along with motivating them. All these activities were carried off one
after the other and results and improvements were collected and analyzed by marking weekly progress report.
Based on the improvement record, students were offered feedback on enhancing the flow of their pronunciation
along with understanding the basic difference between English and Spanish pronunciation of words.
Spanish is a Roman language that is also a part of Indo-European language family. It is spoken by more
than 400 million people across the world. Spanish has five pure vowels and five diphthongs while English has
twelve pure vowel sounds and more than eight diphthongs. The length of vowel plays an important role in
English language while pronouncing words while the length of vowels does not matter a lot in Spanish language
and that is why Spanish speakers find it difficult to pronounce words correctly in English language. Spanish
speakers often fail to identify the difference between vowel sounds in English language and thus fail to identify
the pronunciation difference between words like fool/full, ship/sheep and cart/cut/cat. It is important to
understand that vowel sounds are often produced differently in order to form correct pronunciation. At times,
vowels need to be stretched in order to create a long sound while at times; vowels need to be pronounced
without prolonging them. In order to correct the pronunciation of vowel sounds in order to pronounce words
correctly, it is important to have vowel lessons strengthening the overall knowledge over the production of
sounds. It is important to have theoretical understanding of sounds in order to gain a perspective over the
importance and usefulness of speech sounds in pronouncing words correctly. The next part of the discussion
presents an effective framework through which vowel sounds can be understood in a logical way.
There are ten basic vowel sounds that need to be understood in order to form an understanding over the
production of vowel sounds. Vowels are produced with free passage of the air stream where articulators do not
touch each other. There is no obstruction in the flow of air from lungs (Johnson, 2003). Much of the production
of vowel sounds is dependent on the position and movement of lips and tongue. Different shapes and
movements of lips, tongue and jaws produce different vowels sounds. The tongue can be moved up and down
and also front and back and lips can be rounded or unrounded. English language has short and long vowels that
change the whole art of pronouncing words in a correct manner (Ladefoged, 2000).

IV. Conclusions
Overall, it can be said that teaching English pronunciation to Spanish students requires great deal of
dedication. It was found that initially, Spanish students faced issues in pronouncing vowels. However, they were
offered lessons on vowels and contractions that helped in improving their pronunciation to an extent. By the end
of two weeks, there were major signs of improvements in terms of pronouncing Basic English words in a correct
manner. The voices of students were recorded that were further used to assess their level of improvement and
that also helped in continuing the proposed framework. In between the learning period, few students showed
signs of little interest based on their assumptions of English as a tough language. However, they were further
motivated to understand English words and its pronunciation.
It can be believed that the overall task of enhancing the pronunciation level of Spanish students was a
challenging one considering the fact that English and Spanish languages are very much different in terms of
phonetics, phonology, diction. Though, the first part of the activity majorly concentrated on making students
understand the difference in the pronunciation of vowels and use of contractions. The later stage concentrated on
making students read in front of others. The voices of students were recorded and mistakes and loopholes in the
pronunciation were illustrated and dealt with correction and modification of pronunciation. This further helped
in enhancing the English pronunciation of Spanish students. The later learning phase also included the use of
Kenilworths English Teaching Pronunciation materials where two sets of questionnaires were offered to the
students. The first set of questionnaires included five questions based on ascertaining the attitude and
understanding over the English pronunciation. The second set of questionnaires was based on motivating
students by recording their voices and making them listen along with rectifying pronunciation errors. These
activities further helped in enhancing the overall pronunciation level of students along with making them feel
comfortable.

www.ijhssi.org 74 | Page
Teaching English Pronunciation to Spanish Speakers

V. Recommendations for Enhancing English Pronunciation


In order to enhance the English pronunciation of Spanish speakers, it is important to offer great degree of
insights on English alphabets and kinds of vowels and consonants. In English language, vowel sounds play
an important role and thus need to be taught in a clear and systematic manner to help in correct
pronunciation
The movement of lips and tongue also plays an important role in the production of speech sounds and thus
focus should be more on teaching the movement and shapes of lips and tongue to enhance the English
pronunciation of Spanish speakers in a great way
Students need to speak and write in English in order to have an idea over their pronunciation. This also
helps in identifying major pronunciation loopholes that can be further worked on to enhance correct way of
pronouncing English words
It is important to record the voices of students and make them listen. This helps in understanding the overall
degree of improvement and drawbacks that can be worked on through mutual support and cooperation
It is important to have high degree of patience and understanding of students mindsets in terms of teaching
them English pronunciation.

VI. Recommendations for Future Research


The present research is based on teaching English pronunciation to Spanish speakers of a particular
university. Future research should include Spanish students from different Universities in order to assess
their basic understanding and improvement in the context of English pronunciation
Future research should involve a separate study on movement of lips and tongue in enhancing the overall
act of pronunciation. Furthermore, focus should be more on articulation and ways of determining the actual
and correct mode of pronunciation
Future research should also include an understanding over production of sounds in a thorough manner to
make the study more concrete and purposeful. An understanding over the production of sounds has been
highlighted in the current research also but future research should include more of it.

Bibliography
[1] Blackburn, Simon. Being Good: An Introduction to Ethics. United Kingdom: Oxford University Press, 2001. Print.
[2] Johnson, K (2003). Acoustic & Auditory Phonetics, second edition, BlackwellLadefoged, P (2000) Vowels and
Consonants: An Introduction to the Sounds of Languages, Blackwell
[3] Saunders, Mark. N. K., Adrian Thornhill, Philip Lewis, and Colin Fisher. Research Methods for Business Students /
Researching and Writing a Dissertation: A Guidebook for Business Students. United States: Financial Times/Prentice
Hall, 2007. Print.
Ladefoged, P (2000) Vowels and Consonants: An Introduction to the Sounds of Languages,
Blackwell

www.ijhssi.org 75 | Page